Top Ten Tips... Staying Safe Online
Over the last 18 months, technology and the internet has played an even greater part in our lives than ever before. With millions of us logging on to stay connected with our colleagues, friends and families, it’s vital that we are extra vigilant when it comes to online safety and security.
In May, The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) held their annual CyberUK event online, sharing helpful safety guidance and demonstrating what we can do together to deliver a digital United Kingdom that leads the world in cyber resilience.
Here are our Top Ten Tips for staying safe online...
1. Update your devices
Regularly update your apps and software, whenever your device prompts you to do so. Updates are designed to address any weaknesses that criminals may be able to use to access your data. You can even set automatic updates on your computer, tablet and mobile phone so you don’t have to think about it!
2. Create a strong password
This is definitely one you've heard before! Creating strong, unique passwords for your different accounts really is the best way to keep your information safe. The NCSC’s Cyber Aware site recommends using three random but memorable words, as well as special characters. If you think you’re likely to forget your new passwords or get muddled up, try a password manager, such as LastPass, to help you store strong passwords for all of your accounts.
3. Create a separate password for your email
While the NCSC does recommend having different passwords for all of your critical accounts, it’s absolutely vital that you have a separate, unique password especially for your email account. Your emails may contain a lot of your personal and private information as well as links to other online accounts you may have – this is definitely one you want to protect!
4. Back-up your data
Should the worst happen and one of your devices is hacked, then you may lose personal information and access to your data. Regularly backing up your devices and their data will prevent this from happening, keeping you safe in the knowledge that you’ll always have access to your own information.
5. Use two-factor authentication
Now that you’ve created strong passwords for your online accounts, why not see if they also offer multi-factor authentication? This gives you an extra layer of online protection by asking for a second piece of information from you before accessing a site, such as sending you a text with a code that has to be entered to prove authenticity. The feature usually has to be turned on by you to make it work, so it is worth looking for this on sites that have important information about you, such as your email and social media accounts.
6. Remember passwords by saving them to your browser
Your new, strong passwords might be a little difficult to remember. Did you know that most web browsers allow you to safely store your log-in details directly? The NCSC’s Cyber Aware site tells you how to do this for the most popular browsers including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Safari.
7. Watch out for phishing scams
Unfortunately, online threats are evolving all the time, so make sure you know what to look out for! Phishing scams use false email addresses and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information – be careful not to click on links and attachments from any email addresses you don’t recognise.
8. Be careful what you download
Similarly to the point above, be careful not to download anything that looks suspicious or comes from a site you don’t trust. A lot of the time, cybercriminals disguise information-stealing malware as an app so it’s best to only download these from well-known sites and app stores.
9. Keep your personal information personal
It’s true that our social media profiles are a great way to stay connected with our friends and loved ones, but they can also be used by hackers to gain access to our personal information. Double check your privacy settings on profiles such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to make sure you’re happy with what can be seen by those who aren’t your friends or followers and avoid posting personal details such as your home address and mother’s maiden name etc.
10. Protect your mobile too
Most of the tips we’ve shared apply to your PC or laptop but it’s important that you protect your mobile devices too! Tablets and mobile phones have faced new risks in recent years, such as dangerous apps and links sent by text message. We advise you to be careful where you click and don’t respond to any unexpected messages from strangers. You can also ensure that you only download apps from official app stores after checking out any reviews left by other users’ first.
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